Business Success: Internet Radio!

Please join me…

I’m Making the Leap to Internet Radio!

Do you find the current economic climate exciting? Stressful? Both? Well, here’s the good news… or bad news, depending on your comfort level with uncertainty – it’s going to intensify and, dare I say, get more exciting… and perhaps more stressful. Yes, our fast-paced, high-tech, global economy is going to go faster, get more technological, and connect to more parts of our amazing planet.

So what can we do about it? Personally, I become more comfortable with change and uncertainty if I can identify an underlying pattern or model. And I’ve been building predictive models for marketing, risk, and CRM for over 20 years. So I love when I can figure this stuff out… And I’m going to share what I’ve learned on my new radio show, Quantum Business Insights – Emerging Perspectives on People, Process, and Profits. Here’s an overview:

In today’s fast-paced, high-tech, global economy, the business landscape is constantly changing. The confluence of big data, emerging technologies, and global connectivity places unprecedented pressure on companies to become more innovative and agile. To maintain a competitive edge, companies must constantly adapt while continuing to identify and exploit new opportunities.

Interestingly, new models are emerging from science and nature that offer a unique perspective – one that sees our global economy as a highly interconnected, continually evolving complex adaptive system. These models unveil powerful insights for optimizing our business strategies and operations.

Each week on Quantum Business Insights, we’ll explore these concepts with thought leaders from around the globe. We’ll look for ways to leverage their insights to ignite innovation, inspire our workforce, and create positive outcomes for our companies and the planet.

Quantum_Business_Insights_-_VoiceAmerica™

Beginning at noon ET on Friday, September 13th (who needs luck?), I’m launching my new radio show “Quantum Business Insights – Emerging Perspectives on People, Process, and Profits” on Voice America.http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2240/quantum-business-insight.

Now you’re probably wondering how models from science and nature connect with business. Have you ever heard of quantum physics? Or evolutionary biology? Turns out these areas of knowledge go a long way in explaining what is going on in our volatile, global economy. If at this point you’re tempted to stop reading, consider this: at least 35% of our economy is based on quantum physics. Fiber optics, lasers, and microchips are all based on quantum theory. And with the recent emergence of quantum computing, this percentage may grow significantly.

Here’s the good news! You don’t have to go back to school and study quantum physics or evolutionary biology. A simple understanding, gleaned from Wikipedia or a plethora other sources, will give you the basics. There are a few simple principles that apply to everyday business, in my humble opinion. And they all point to letting go of control.

Are you still with me? I realize this can be a huge challenge for many of you. But believe me, it’s worth trying. Here’s why – to really thrive in our volatile, global economy, we must let go of any domination models and nurture our most important asset – our human capital.
Over my many years of research, I’ve met some amazing people. So I have an exciting line-up of guests, including:

Riane Eisler, JD – President of the Center for Partnership Studies and internationally known for her ground-breaking contributions as a systems scientist, attorney working for the human rights of women and children, and author of The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future (Harper & Row, 1988), now in 25 foreign editions, and The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics (Berrett-Koehler, 2008), hailed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking” by Gloria Steinem as “revolutionary,” and by Jane Goodall as “a call for action.”

Dr. Eisler lectures worldwide, with venues including the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. Department of State, Congressional briefings, and events hosted by heads of State. She is a member of the Club of Rome, a Councilor of the World Future Council and the International Museum of Women, a member of the General Evolution Research Group, a fellow of the Academy of Art and Science and the World Business Academy, a Commissioner of the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality. For more information, visit www.rianeeisler.com

Mitch Ditkoff – co-founder and President of Idea Champions, a highly acclaimed management consulting and training company. Mitch specializes in helping forward thinking organizations go beyond business as usual, originate breakthrough products and services, and establish dynamic, sustainable cultures of innovation.

At the heart of his work lies the fundamental belief that a company’s most important capital asset is the collective brain power, creativity and commitment of its work force and that this asset can be significantly leveraged when people are provided with the appropriate setting, systems, tools and techniques to think (and act) out of the box.

In 2010 and 2011, he was voted as the #1 innovation blogger in the world and is now a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. His widely read blog, The Heart of Innovation, is a daily destination for a global audience of movers and shakers. Additionally, Mitch is the author of the award-winning book, Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Idea Rolling (in an uphill world) and the innovation-sparking card deck and online app, Free the Genie.

Mitch has worked with a wide variety of Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies who have realized the need to do something different in order to succeed in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. These clients include: GE, Merck, AT&T, Allianz, Lucent Technologies, NBC Universal, Goodyear, A&E Television Networks, General Mills, MTV Networks, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a host of others. For more information, visit www.ideachampions.com

Rodney Napier, PhD – President of The Napier Group and a professor of Organizational Dynamics at Temple University. For over 40 years, Rod has facilitated and taught small group, team, and system behavior. His early work as a professor at Temple University placed him in the formative years of the group dynamics movement where he was both a learner and a contributor to this rapidly-expanding area of human behavior.

Dr. Napier is co-founder of the Athyn Group, which focuses on leadership development and introduced the first prototype for 360- degree feedback, now central to most programs of leadership development. Attempting to translate theory into practice in relation to leader/facilitator effectiveness has been a primary concern. To that end he has authored or co-authored a dozen books including the seminal text in the field of group dynamics, Groups: Theory and Experience – now in its seventh edition. His most recent book, The Courage to Act provides insight into the creation of high performing teams where the development of candor, trust, and risk-taking are central to spawning both individual and team courage.

His consulting and education work have involved organization development and change programs for dozens of nationally recognized corporations including Bechtel, CBS, Merck, and Exxon; and international organizations such as the Office of the President of Nicaragua, and the United Nations. For more information, visithttp://thenapiergroup.com/

Brian Robertson – Partner at HolacracyOne, is a seasoned entrepreneur and organization builder, and a recovering CEO – a job from which he now helps free others with Holacracy. Generally regarded as the primary developer of the system, Brian’s work allows leaders to release the reins of personal power and persuasion into a trustworthy and explicit governance process. Brian also serves as the drafter and steward of the Holacracy Constitution, which captures the system’s unique “rules of the game” in concrete form. Beyond joyfully crafting legal documents, Brian’s creative expression takes many forms – he co-founded HolacracyOne to support Holacracy’s growth, and he fills and loves a broad variety of the company’s roles.

He’s particularly grateful to hold no fancy titles and wield no special powers, so he can show up as just another partner doing his part to support something he cares about. HolacracyOne, founded in early 2007, matured the Holacracy prototype into a comprehensive operating system and novel authority structure, and packaged it for implementation by other organizations. Holacracy is now an international movement with a broad community of practitioners and consultants catalyzing its adoption across the globe. For more information, visitwww.holacracy.org

More Details
The show will air at 12:00 noon Eastern Time every Friday beginning 9/13/13. It will repeat 12 hours later and be available for download on my host page (link available next week). So please watch for upcoming show topic and guest announcements.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or feel like you would be a good fit for an interview, please contact me – Olivia@oliviagroup.com.

Business Success: Empowerment

Are you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

Paradox of Empowerment
True power is the ability to relinquish control.
—Olivia Parr Rud

One of the most challenging aspects of leading in the new model is giving up the need for control. And yet with the complexity of business today, it is impossible to micromanage from the top. Years ago, the chief executive officer (CEO) could do the job of practically every person on the company. Today, it is a totally different story.

As discussed in Chapter 4 of my book, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, did not always entrust decision making to others. He started out as a command-and-control type. “If I said, “Turn right,” all 65,000 employees turned right.” But he soon realized that the company couldn’t grow as rapidly as was necessary under that model. So he and his top leadership team invented a new way to run the business.

business empowerment

Not only is it less effective to operate with a top-down leadership style, but it diminishes so much of the energy, wisdom, and vitality of the organization. In the article “The Paradox of Empowerment,” Wayne Baker states that “empowerment means letting go while taking control.” Often this requires leaders to transform the work environment by actively changing “the way people work, relate, think, and feel.” However, they must also allow time for the new empowerment to “take root, grow, and thrive.”

“Like any paradox, the paradox of empowerment is full of traps. It ensnares CEOs who cannot accept or live in the contradiction of taking control and letting go. Such CEOs become abdicators or meddlers. Those who thrive in the paradox become coaches who learn how to cultivate true empowerment.”

Abdicators are good at letting go. But they fail to offer guidance or make the fundamental changes necessary to cultivate emergent leadership such setting goals and establishing empowering processes. Meddlers never really give up control. They say they want self-managed teams, but they often stay too involved and tend to micromanage. This results in team members delegating upward and abdicating responsibility. “Coaches [,however,] know the difference between intervention and interference.”

If the CEO of yesterday’s command-and-control corporation was the military chieftain, then the CEO of tomorrow’s corporation is the philosopher-king. As a philosopher, the CEO develops the comprehensive theory of the corporation as a society. This theory includes an ideology or system of beliefs about human nature, superordinate goals, and shared values, and it encompasses a vision of a better society—a model of the company tomorrow. As a king, the CEO acts decisively to put theory into practice. This demands not just business but social re-engineering—all the deep interventions necessary to transform the corporation.

Empowering CEOs are experts at tapping into the natural desire of people to work in fulfilling and productive jobs. They know that people are motivated by many things besides money, such as “belonging, mastery, self-esteem, achievement, respect.” Meddlers, who generally distrust human nature, feel their employees must be coerced into doing their jobs.

Empowering CEOs create an environment of collaboration and self-direction. They create effective social mechanisms, such as high-level networks that unite and build community.

Business Success: Social Intelligence

If there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place and to see things from his point of view—as well as your own. 

—Henry Ford

The human brain offers fascinating insights into how leaders can leverage the new science. Based on the latest research in social neuroscience, a person who feels empathy for someone else is able to become attuned to the other’s mood. The result is resonance. The two brains become attuned as if they are part of the same system. This idea has powerful implications for leaders, as it follows that truly “great leaders are those whose behavior powerfully leverages the system of brain interconnectedness.”

Social influence on leaders

Natural leaders are those who easily connect with others. Individuals can improve their leadership abilities by finding “authentic contexts in which to learn the kinds of social behavior that reinforces the brain’s social circuitry. Leading effectively is, in other words, less about mastering situations—or even mastering social skill sets—than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.”

Tuning In

The process of tuning in occurs through the activation of mirror neurons, which are widely distributed throughout the brain. They operate as a “neural Wi-Fi” that facilitates our navigation of the social world by picking up the emotions of others and sharing their experience.
This point has powerful implications for leadership style. It suggests that leaders can succeed while being very demanding, as long as they foster a positive mood. In fact, certain mirror neurons are designed to detect smiles and laughter and often prompt smiles and laughter in return. Leaders who elicit smiles and laughter stimulate bonding among their team members. Research shows that “top-performing leaders elicited laughter from their subordinates three times as often, on average, as did mid-performing leaders.”

Intuition

Great leaders often say they make decisions from the gut. While some discount this concept, neuroscience steps in again to suggest that intuition is, in fact, in the brain. Intuition is produced by neurons called spindle cells. These cells are characterized by their large size (four times that of other brain cells). Their spindly shape, with an extra-long branch that allows them to attach to many cells at the same time, enables spindle cells to transmit thoughts and feeling to other cells more quickly. “This ultrarapid connection of emotions, beliefs, and judgments creates what behavioral scientists call our social guidance system.” This ability to take a thin slice of information and make a split-second decision has proven to be very accurate as shown in follow-up metrics. The ability to intuit while tuned in to others’ moods offers very accurate radar.

Other neurons that play a role in our social intelligence are called oscillators. The oscillator neurons coordinate movements between people who are attuned to each others’ feelings. It explains the phenomena experienced in dancing or a drumming circle. And it plays heavily in nonverbal communication, as this connection enables one to guided to look in a certain direction or adjust position by the actions of another.

Dan Goleman, author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, and Richard Boyaztis, author of Becoming a Resonant Leader, share their behavioral assessment tool, the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. “It is a 360-degree evaluation instrument by which bosses, peers, direct reports, clients, and sometimes even family members assess a leader according to seven social intelligence qualities.”

Empathy
• Do you understand what motivates other people, even those from different backgrounds?
• Are you sensitive to others’ needs?
Attunement
• Do you listen attentively and think about how others feel?
• Are you attuned to others’ moods?
Organizational Awareness
• Do you appreciate the culture and values of the group or organization?
• Do you understand social networks and know their unspoken norms?
Influence
• Do you persuade others by engaging them in discussion and appealing to their self-interests?
• Do you get support from key people?
Developing Others
• Do you coach and mentor others with compassion and personally invest time and energy in mentoring?
• Do you provide feedback that people find helpful for their professional development?
Inspiration
• Do you articulate a compelling vision, build group price, and foster a positive emotional tone?
• Are you lead by bringing out the best in people?
Teamwork
• Do you solicit input from everyone on the team?
• Are you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

What characteristics do you think are most important in a leader?

Leadership Development, Predictive Analytics, Business Intelligence and Change Management blog

 

Business Success: Social Intelligence

If there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place and to see things from his point of view—as well as your own. 

—Henry Ford

The human brain offers fascinating insights into how leaders can leverage the new science. Based on the latest research in social neuroscience, a person who feels empathy for someone else is able to become attuned to the other’s mood. The result is resonance. The two brains become attuned as if they are part of the same system. This idea has powerful implications for leaders, as it follows that truly “great leaders are those whose behavior powerfully leverages the system of brain interconnectedness.”

Social influence on leadersNatural leaders are those who easily connect with others. Individuals can improve their leadership abilities by finding “authentic contexts in which to learn the kinds of social behavior that reinforces the brain’s social circuitry. Leading effectively is, in other words, less about mastering situations—or even mastering social skill sets—than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.”

Tuning In

The process of tuning in occurs through the activation of mirror neurons, which are widely distributed throughout the brain. They operate as a “neural Wi-Fi” that facilitates our navigation of the social world by picking up the emotions of others and sharing their experience.
This point has powerful implications for leadership style. It suggests that leaders can succeed while being very demanding, as long as they foster a positive mood. In fact, certain mirror neurons are designed to detect smiles and laughter and often prompt smiles and laughter in return. Leaders who elicit smiles and laughter stimulate bonding among their team members. Research shows that “top-performing leaders elicited laughter from their subordinates three times as often, on average, as did mid-performing leaders.”

Intuition

Great leaders often say they make decisions from the gut. While some discount this concept, neuroscience steps in again to suggest that intuition is, in fact, in the brain. Intuition is produced by neurons called spindle cells. These cells are characterized by their large size (four times that of other brain cells). Their spindly shape, with an extra-long branch that allows them to attach to many cells at the same time, enables spindle cells to transmit thoughts and feeling to other cells more quickly. “This ultrarapid connection of emotions, beliefs, and judgments creates what behavioral scientists call our social guidance system.” This ability to take a thin slice of information and make a split-second decision has proven to be very accurate as shown in follow-up metrics. The ability to intuit while tuned in to others’ moods offers very accurate radar.

Other neurons that play a role in our social intelligence are called oscillators. The oscillator neurons coordinate movements between people who are attuned to each others’ feelings. It explains the phenomena experienced in dancing or a drumming circle. And it plays heavily in nonverbal communication, as this connection enables one to guided to look in a certain direction or adjust position by the actions of another.

Dan Goleman, author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, and Richard Boyaztis, author of Becoming a Resonant Leader, share their behavioral assessment tool, the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. “It is a 360-degree evaluation instrument by which bosses, peers, direct reports, clients, and sometimes even family members assess a leader according to seven social intelligence qualities.”

Empathy
• Do you understand what motivates other people, even those from different backgrounds?
• Are you sensitive to others’ needs?
Attunement
• Do you listen attentively and think about how others feel?
• Are you attuned to others’ moods?
Organizational Awareness
• Do you appreciate the culture and values of the group or organization?
• Do you understand social networks and know their unspoken norms?
Influence
• Do you persuade others by engaging them in discussion and appealing to their self-interests?
• Do you get support from key people?
Developing Others
• Do you coach and mentor others with compassion and personally invest time and energy in mentoring?
• Do you provide feedback that people find helpful for their professional development?
Inspiration
• Do you articulate a compelling vision, build group price, and foster a positive emotional tone?
• Are you lead by bringing out the best in people?
Teamwork
• Do you solicit input from everyone on the team?
• Are you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

What characteristics do you think are most important in a leader?

Business Success: The Conscious Leader

To become a leader, you must first become a human being.

—Confucius

leadership speaker
A conscious leader is best described by defining what it is not. According to leadership consultant Lance Secretan, consciousness is the opposite of rationalism.
The rational mind believes that:

• Success is always measured in material terms.
• Self-worth is measured in comparison to others.
• Feelings are private and should not be expressed in the workplace.
• The singe bottom line is the main arbiter of success.
• Anything that cannot be scientifically proven is not real or valuable.
• We are each separate and must compete.
• The world is dangerous and we must always protect ourselves.
• Violence and aggression are necessary for survival and safety.
• Notions like love, eco-interdependence, spirit or soul, absolute truth, and the divine are the province of philosophers, idealists, and the naïve—not business people.

The rational mind is firmly entrenched in the Newtonian model of science, which is insufficient when it comes to thriving in a volatile economy.

As Secretan puts it:

The rational mind describes compassion and caring for people as touchy-feely soft stuff. The conscious mind sees compassion and caring for people as the juice—even the purpose and necessity of life. The rational mind reasons that an imbalance between work and life is the means that is justified by the ends.

One the other hand, the conscious mind understands that everything in the universe, including work and life, must be balanced, that there is a season for everything. The conscious mind therefore balances thinking and feeling, profit and people, wisdom and learning, ego and spirit, now and the future, rich and poor, the sacred and the secular. The fully conscious leader is an evolved being.

Organizations that strive to be highly adaptable in the turbulent times ahead will be those with conscious leaders at every level.

Business Success: The Learning Organization Part II

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 @ 10:52 AM

In the last post, we discussed the first two of the five disciplines.  If you missed it you can find it here.

Mental Models

Senge defines mental models “as deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” A majority of these models are unconscious and have existed since childhood. Yet they pervade every thought, word, and action.

The first step in dealing with mental models is to look within oneself. Then the organization must create a safe place for members participate in compassionate scrutiny and influence through the process of “inquiry and advocacy.”

Building Shared Vision

sacred_imagesOne thing that all successful organizations have in common is a shared vision. Made up of shared goals and values, a shared vision has the capacity to bring “people

together around a common identity and sense of destiny,” according to Senge. It unleashes creative energy and fuels innovation by rallying diverse members in a shared vision that galvanizes the organization. It “involves the skills of unearthing shared ‘pictures of the future’ that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance.”

Team Learning

The success of organizations to learn is based on the ability of the teams to learn. The team must connect and share through dialogue while suspending assumptions and learning to trust each other. Blocks such as fear, apathy, and defensiveness can undermine learning. Therefore, safe and open communication is essential.

Team learning has the power to enhance capabilities for innovation and creativity. But to maximize the benefits, the learning must be shared. Many teams of brilliant individuals have produced mediocre results due to lack of interaction and integration.

Practicing team learning is not about copying a model. Many new management innovations emerge as “best practices.” But most organizations adopt and implement the ideas in a piecemeal fashion. Toyota is a great example of a company that uses a systems approach. Many companies copy Toyota’s kanban system. But they fail to see how all the parts work together in a way that is unique for Toyota.

The Fifth Discipline

Senge points out that “It is vital that the five disciplines develop as an ensemble.” This is truly a time when the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

Based on that truth, “systems thinking is the fifth discipline.” Without a systemic approach, the coherence necessary to be adaptable is lost. “For example, vision without systems thinking ends up painting lovely pictures of the future with no deep understanding of the forces that must be mastered to move from here to there.”

Organizations that embrace systems thinking must also practice “the disciplines of building shared vision, mental models, team learning, and personal mastery to realize its potential.”

Each of these disciplines plays a role in powering the system. Shared vision builds a group commitment to the future. Mental models provide the openness necessary to unveil the limitations present in the organization. Team learning improves the members’ skills to create and take action on an organizational level. And personal mastery encourages the self-reflection, healing, and personal growth necessary to fully participate in an adaptable organization.

Finally, learning organizations offer amazing potential for creating their future. Based on the new science, a learning organization is creating its future by shifting how individuals perceive themselves and their world.

Business Success: The Learning Organization Part I

The technology driven enterprise demands a new leadership paradigm – one that creates a far stronger, more genuine link between the achievement of corporate objectives and the employee’s realization of his deepest, often unexpressed, intensely personal growth needs.

Thus, rather than the mere promise of greater corporate status and power, followership is borne of belief in the leader’s true understanding and caring for the employee’s holistic being and welfare, and thus flows from greater intimacy.
Kendall A. Elsom, Jr., President, CEO Genesis Consulting Partners

The_fifth_discipline_coverIn The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge introduces five new component technologies, or disciplines that “are gradually converging to innovate learning organizations.” They are systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning. According to Senge, organizations that practice these disciplines are adaptable, self-organizing, and have the potential to “continually enhance their capacity to realize their highest aspirations.”

Below are two of the five disciplines.  We will cover the other three in the next blog article.

Systems Thinking
As previously described, systems thinking takes the approach that to have impact, the organization needs to be viewed in its entirety with recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While one participates in a system, it is sometimes difficult to see the overall pattern and how that pattern changes over time. Since parts of organizations are connected by numerous interactions, the effect on other parts may take years to play out.
Traditional approaches tend to view each part in isolation, often never getting to some of the deepest issues. Senge defines systems thinking as “a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that has been developed over the past fifty years, to make the full patterns clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively.”

Personal Mastery
Senge defines personal mastery as “the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.” As someone might strive for master status within a trade, mastery is a special level of proficiency or self-actualization. It is a foundational element of the learning organization since “an organization’s commitment to and capacity for learning can be no greater than that of its members.”

Unfortunately, this is where many organizations fall short, leading to vast untapped potential. Most people enter business full of optimism and energy. But after a number of years, they become disenchanted and just put in their time until retirement with minimum effort. Therefore, it is critical for management to hire and inspire toward the goal of each member striving for personal mastery.

Join us next week for the other 3 disciplines.

Business Success: Conflict Resolution: A Living Systems Approach

Apr 29, 2013 @ 08:30 AM

Conflict is a natural by-product of the tensions that arise in dynamic organizations. Although it is often perceived as negative, conflict that is handled effectively has the potential to inject new, creative energy into the system.

communicationConflict can be dealt with in a variety of ways. The use of mediation along with the practice of effective listening skills detailed in Chapter 3 is often successful. Organizations are discovering that by inviting individuals to work through their issues in new positive constructive ways that tap into the energy of the group, these techniques deepen the connections within and across their teams.

Eric Brunner, manager of Human Resources at Temple University and his colleague, Marie Amey-Taylor, director of Temple’s Human Resources Department, use a variety of training techniques that provide content in visual, auditory, and kinesthetic formats. They also design their trainings to be active, using both inductive and deductive activities to transfer learning to the participants.

For over 10 years, Brunner and Amey-Taylor have been practicing a combination of improvisational theater and sociodrama to demonstrate appropriate and inappropriate conflict resolution skills and ways to work through conflict and build trust. Sociodrama is a form of improvisational theater based on the “shared central needs and issues” of the audience or participant group and involves dramatic enactments of real-life situations or conflicts so that participants can observe and develop interpersonal skills.

It is presented using trained actors, occasional volunteer audience members, and a highly trained facilitator. In practice, Brunner and Amey-Taylor found that participants became very engaged in the action, would dialogue with the characters in a scene, and might even jump in to take the place of actors to “correct” inappropriate or ineffective behaviors. This unique combination of improv and sociodrama is a powerful technique and has become a staple in their work with employees at all levels within a wide variety of organizations. In the next section, Brunner shares his experience with the process.

Conflict Resolution with Sociodrama

Recently, we were asked to partner with a professor from Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater who was presenting on the topic of cross-cultural communication at a women’s leadership conference at Bryn Mawr College. In attendance were about 80 women, all high-level administrators, from a wide range of institutions of higher education.

Because the group was all women, there was a content piece based on the work of Deborah Tannen, an expert in the different communication styles of men and women. Prior to the presentation of this content area, the theater troupe presented a scene designed to introduce the content and invite participants into the presentation. Because of the actors’ familiarity with the participant group and the program content, they were able to anticipate a scene that would have relevance for the group and introduce content. There were four actors on site for this session, two men and two women.

The scene started with actors playing the four people responsible for planning an event on a college campus. During the enactment, the male actors began acting in ways that were illustrative of how Tannen described men as communicators. And the women in the scene began acting in the ways that she described as typical of women.

As the scene played out, the session participants were able to see the connection between cross-gender communication and the possible conflicts that could be generated. As the group saw themselves and others with whom they work in the characters, they started to react, most with laughter. A few exhibited a heightened desire to rectify the situation depicted by the actors. After watching the enactment for five minutes, the group participants were engaged and eager to explore the topic more fully. The use of theater also allowed the women to release some of the feelings they carried related to the topic and their own experiences. This purely experiential format for generating discussion and learning about conflict has proven to be an effective training technique and a tool for building trust and strong relationships.

Business Success: Leveraging Chaos in Organizations Part II

Evolution at the Edge

It is important to acknowledge that the discomfort created by chaos is necessary for change to occur. It is equally important to safeguard against getting lost or frozen in the midst of the chaos. Leaders need to balance on the edge of chaos, dipping in and being comfortable there in order to move themselves and the organization to higher levels of evolution. This delicate balance includes inviting members of the organization to feel the need for change while not feeling overwhelmed by it. According to Coveney and Highfield in Frontiers of Complexity, “ Complex systems that can evolve will always be near the edge of chaos, poised for that creative step into emergent novelty that is the essence of the evolutionary process.”

edge_of_chaosThe edge of chaos is the best place to observe the patterns of order available, patterns that then may be applied to the current situation. Getting stuck in one particular state of order is not effective because, sooner or later, that state will become obsolete. It is crucial for leaders to remain open to new experiences that the environment contains and show a willingness to adapt and change based on the information received from the environment.

 

Emotional Distance

The ability to move gracefully in and out of change and the resulting chaos requires an ability to observe what is happening. Doing so involves being able to psychologically step back and assess what is occurring on multiple levels with detachment. If participants become emotionally involved, it becomes difficult for them to be objective.

Emotional distance allows participants to observe with an open mind, thereby enhancing the likelihood that they will hear other points of view and see what is occurring in a group. This is the reason why it is often suggested that facilitators not participate in the content of a discussion. They are then more able to see what is going on and make helpful interventions, dipping in when necessary to keep the group on course or help members deal with something they are avoiding.

What to Observe at the Edge

It is helpful to observe specific aspects of the group while maintaining emotional distance by asking:
• Are the goals clear?
• Are people listening to one another and communicating well?
• Are individuals involved and included?
• How are people feeling (what are their nonverbal expressions, what they are doing, how are they interacting)?

All of this information will help to identify clues regarding the health of the group, its relationships, and its interactions in the organization. If ineffective interactions are apparent, an intervention will help move the group to greater effectiveness. For example, if people are not listening, the facilitator can ask others to repeat what was just said. If goals are not clear, the facilitator can ask the group to clarify them. If the group is moving off task, the facilitator can ask if this is what the group should be doing. If someone looks angry or confused, the facilitator can ask him or her how they are doing. Another way of observing group effectiveness is to look for patterns in the organization.

Fractals

Discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1970s, fractals provide a guide for examining complexity and patterns. They are characterized by patterns that replicate to create the whole. In a fractal, each part is autonomous. However, the pattern of each part is embedded in every part of the whole. Some common examples of fractals are the lungs, circulatory systems, leaves, and feathers. Fractals contain a certain order that allows them to be decoded with a few rules. Complexity is the result of a given structure being repeated many times.

Fractals can be seen within the social life of an organization. Each member is autonomous while it is part of the greater whole. The organization is healthiest when members’ patterns are replicated throughout the whole through effective communication.

Leaders are fractals of others in the organization. Their behavior is often mirrored throughout the organization. If the leader is collaborative, communicates openly, and attempts to learn from past mistakes, this behavior will carry through to the members.

Norms as Fractals

Norms for behaving are patterns that can be observed in the organization. Much like a fractal, an organization is seen as connected if certain norms exist throughout it. Norms are the implicit or explicit rules that guide and determine what behaviors are acceptable within a group. Although often not explicit, these are the rules by which people work on a daily basis. They determine how a group handles conflict and stress, makes decisions, listens, generates ideas, and allows certain language to prevail. In any group, norms may be effective or ineffective.
An example of an organizational norm is the way a group deals with conflict. For example, some organizations suppress tension by pretending it is not there.

Nonverbal cues, such as frowns, crossed arms, and downward glances, are ignored while the group goes on to the next agenda item. This norm keeps the group from examining what is occurring, from sharing thoughts, feelings, and disagreements. These unresolved feelings and disagreements then go underground and sabotage the group later because they have not been resolved. Avoiding conflict cuts off important sources of information that could possibly improve the team, the product, and the way things are done.

Healthy norms are patterns in the organization that can:
• Encourage continuous open feedback, both negative and positive
• Encourage people to share thoughts and feelings
• Encourage individuals and groups to deal with conflict
• Allow learning from mistakes, without blame or judgment
• Create a flow of information throughout the organization
• Encourage participation and involvement in decisions

Each of these norms facilitates the emergence of a truly adaptable organization. All of these norms must be aligned with and support the desired values to ensure that those values permeate the organization. These values are in harmony with the principles that support living systems. As they become institutionalized, healthy norms will come to characterize the organization.

Business Success: Evolution at the Edge

Evolution at the Edge

It is important to acknowledge that the discomfort created by chaos is necessary for change to occur. It is equally important to safeguard against getting lost or frozen in the midst of the chaos. Leaders need to balance on the edge of chaos, dipping in and being comfortable there in order to move themselves and the organization to higher levels of evolution. This delicate balance includes inviting members of the organization to feel the need for change while not feeling overwhelmed by it. According to Coveney and Highfield in Frontiers of Complexity, “ Complex systems that can evolve will always be near the edge of chaos, poised for that creative step into emergent novelty that is the essence of the evolutionary process.”
The edge of chaos is the best place to observe the patterns of order available, patterns that then may be applied to the current situation. Getting stuck in one particular state of order is not effective because, sooner or later, that state will become obsolete. It is crucial for leaders to remain open to new experiences that the environment contains and show a willingness to adapt and change based on the information received from the environment.

Emotional Distance

The ability to move gracefully in and out of change and the resulting chaos requires an ability to observe what is happening. Doing so involves being able to psychologically step back and assess what is occurring on multiple levels with detachment. If participants become emotionally involved, it becomes difficult for them to be objective.

Emotional distance allows participants to observe with an open mind, thereby enhancing the likelihood that they will hear other points of view and see what is occurring in a group. This is the reason why it is often suggested that facilitators not participate in the content of a discussion. They are then more able to see what is going on and make helpful interventions, dipping in when necessary to keep the group on course or help members deal with something they are avoiding.fractals

What to Observe at the Edge

It is helpful to observe specific aspects of the group while maintaining emotional distance by asking:

• Are the goals clear?
• Are people listening to one another and communicating well?
• Are individuals involved and included?
• How are people feeling (what are their nonverbal expressions, what they are doing, how are they interacting)?

All of this information will help to identify clues regarding the health of the group, its relationships, and its interactions in the organization. If ineffective interactions are apparent, an intervention will help move the group to greater effectiveness. For example, if people are not listening, the facilitator can ask others to repeat what was just said. If goals are not clear, the facilitator can ask the group to clarify them. If the group is moving off task, the facilitator can ask if this is what the group should be doing. If someone looks angry or confused, the facilitator can ask him or her how they are doing. Another way of observing group effectiveness is to look for patterns in the organization, which is discussed in the next section.

Fractals

Discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1970s, fractals provide a guide for examining complexity and patterns. They are characterized by patterns that replicate to create the whole. In a fractal, each part is autonomous. However, the pattern of each part is embedded in every part of the whole. Some common examples of fractals are the lungs, circulatory systems, leaves, and feathers. Fractals contain a certain order that allows them to be decoded with a few rules. Complexity is the result of a given structure being repeated many times.

Fractals can be seen within the social life of an organization. Each member is autonomous while it is part of the greater whole. The organization is healthiest when members’ patterns are replicated throughout the whole through effective communication.

Leaders are fractals of others in the organization. Their behavior is often mirrored throughout the organization. If the leader is collaborative, communicates openly, and attempts to learn from past mistakes, this behavior will carry through to the members.

Norms as Fractals

Norms for behaving are patterns that can be observed in the organization. Much like a fractal, an organization is seen as connected if certain norms exist throughout it. Norms are the implicit or explicit rules that guide and determine what behaviors are acceptable within a group. Although often not explicit, these are the rules by which people work on a daily basis. They determine how a group handles conflict and stress, makes decisions, listens, generates ideas, and allows certain language to prevail. In any group, norms may be effective or ineffective.
An example of an organizational norm is the way a group deals with conflict.

For example, some organizations suppress tension by pretending it is not there. Nonverbal cues, such as frowns, crossed arms, and downward glances, are ignored while the group goes on to the next agenda item. This norm keeps the group from examining what is occurring, from sharing thoughts, feelings, and disagreements. These unresolved feelings and disagreements then go underground and sabotage the group later because they have not been resolved. Avoiding conflict cuts off important sources of information that could possibly improve the team, the product, and the way things are done.

Healthy norms are patterns in the organization that can:

• Encourage continuous open feedback, both negative and positive
• Encourage people to share thoughts and feelings
• Encourage individuals and groups to deal with conflict
• Allow learning from mistakes, without blame or judgment
• Create a flow of information throughout the organization
• Encourage participation and involvement in decisions

Each of these norms facilitates the emergence of a truly adaptable organization. All of these norms must be aligned with and support the desired values to ensure that those values permeate the organization. These values are in harmony with the principles that support living systems. As they become institutionalized, healthy norms will come to characterize the organization.